When the topic of James Bond henchmen comes up for discussion, it is almost a sure bet that the character of Jaws will be mentioned more than once.
Even though he starred in just two films that hit theatre screens roughly 30 years ago, Richard Kiel’s steel-toothed baddie-turned-goodie remains a favourite amongst fans. As a result, Kiel will be making an appearance this weekend for the BFI screening of Moonraker as part of the Albert R. Broccoli centenary celebrations currently taking place.
The Guardian’s Geoffrey Macnab had a chance to sit down with the 7’ 2” tall actor to discuss just what it was like to square off against Roger Moore’s Bond in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker.
As stated by Kiel, producer ‘Cubby’ Broccoli’s original idea for Jaws was a character who has ‘teeth like tools, maybe like a shark. They’ll be made out of steel and he’ll kill people with them.’
The teeth themselves resulted from a visit to a dentist near Pinewood Studios for a fitting. ‘The guy ended up successfully making one set. He told me he couldn’t make any more - it was just too difficult,’ Kiel said.
During shooting, however, Kiel could only wear them for a few minutes at a time. He said: ‘They were nauseating. They were up in the roof of your mouth and gave you a gagging effect - you felt like you were going to be sick. It did add to the stoic part of my character - to keep from throwing up.’
‘They were kind enough to have a lady with a tupperware container with some cotton at the bottom. As soon as the director called cut, out they came. She would take them and rinse them with mouthwash and leave them to dry off for the next scene.’
Holly Goodhead: ‘You know him?’
James Bond: ‘Not socially. His name’s Jaws, he kills people.’
Kiel also reveals that the teeth went into a safe each night throughout filming. However, their current whereabouts remain a mystery.
For his second time around in the outer space extravaganza Moonraker, Kiel convinced Broccoli to make Jaws more than just a steel-toothed killing machine and add a little bit of character. ‘If I was to play this role, I told him I’d want to give this character who kills people with his teeth a human side to make him more interesting, maybe have him be persevering and frustrated, so he wouldn’t become boring. A guy killing people with his teeth could easily become over the top.’
Despite filling his career with numerous non-Bond films and projects, Kiel accepts that it will be his role as Jaws that remains the most memorable. Just recently he was announced as the number one favourite Bond film character in a poll by HMV that collected more than 4,900 votes.
‘I was a big fan of the Bond movies,’ Kiel says. ‘I grew on Dr. No, Goldfinger, Thunderball - all the gals and the gadgets. To find out that with the general public, I got a 30% vote with the second place being 16% - that was incredible for me!’
For further details about his upcoming appearance, click here for CommanderBond.net’s full report.